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Middleton steers Shepparton South over line

A goal to former Shepparton player Paul Middleton has lead Shepparton South to victory over Shepparton United in Regional Premier League.

DAMEN FRANCIS April 29, 2014 3:15am

Carl Lamb and South defender Rob Watkins contest a header.


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Former Shepparton midfielder Paul Middleton proved the difference between Shepparton South and Shepparton United at Central Park on Sunday.

Middleton weaved his way into the box and scored the winner three minutes from time, as the Southerners beat the Blues 2-1 in an old-fashioned Regional Premier League derby.

After a late start to pre-season, South coach Reno Lia said Middleton was starting to stamp his influence on the team’s midfield.

‘‘He’s a player you need in your side just for his grittiness,’’ Lia said.

‘‘His voice before a game and at half-time, you need those sort of players to keep players’ minds on the job.

‘‘A lot of the focus might have been on our wide players, especially towards the end, because we knew we could go for the whole game ... and all of a sudden (Paul) just did what we know he’s capable of doing.’’

Shaun Kane broke the deadlock early on, when he stole in to tap home Adam Scott’s dangerous free kick.

South nearly doubled the lead when Scott fed Kane, but the striker slipped at the crucial moment.

United drew level about the half-hour mark, when South conceded a penalty for handball and Carl Lamb buried the spot kick.

Hadi Dad squandered a one-on-one chance, before Lamb saw a header bounce back off the upright, as United closed out the half well.

Defence held sway in the second, as the contest descended into a battle in the middle third, before Middleton provided the decisive moment of the game late on.

Lia said it was not the most convincing performance, but he was happy to take the three points.

‘‘A lot of our players were a little bit down, we had a talk about that after the game and few guys said they were a bit heavy-legged and that was probably due to playing one game in three weeks,’’ he said.

‘‘They were really dangerous with their set plays outside the box, because Connor Campbell is a quality free kick-taker and you’ve got Lamb and a few other talls in there ... but we managed to keep them out and they didn’t really hurt us on a counter or on a breaking attack.

‘‘We didn’t have anyone that had a great game and we still won, so that was pleasing.’’

Blues coach Nick Kalafatis felt a fair result would have been a draw, but his side was a work in progress.

‘‘They should have finished it off early, but they let us back in and by half-time we should have been 3-1 up,’’ Kalafatis said.

‘‘You can’t be happy when you lose, but there were moments when we looked decent and focused on what we wanted to do.

‘‘We know it’s still early and we need a lot of work, but South wasn’t the side everyone was saying they are.’’

The Blues were without Laurence Jacuzzi, Roven Shaholli and import Adam Morning, whose clearance was not completed in time, while captain Cossie Kalafatis’ horror run with injury continued, with a hamstring strain at training last week.

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